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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    18

    Default Not sure if bees are preparing to swarm--I need advice!

    Hello! I'm a first time beekeeper in Portland, OR. Unfortunately my experience hasn't been the greatest, though I do really love my bees!! We discovered v. Mites 6 weeks ago (which, from my reading, is pretty rare to experience for the first season) and started using Apiguard (June 12) around the same time we should've added our 2nd deep but was advised to wait to added 2nd deep so the meds could be on top of the 1st deep so the bees would be closer to the vapors. Added the 2nd deep Friday, July 4, and placed the last treatment on flat tinfoil between deeps hoping the meds could still do the job.

    5 days ago (July 11), when adding the last treatment of Apiguard I checked to see if the bees had started drawing out comb in the second deep, which they hadn't, and also noticed the queen had stopped laying eggs, which I assumed was due to the Apiguard treatment (they have been drinking syrup water with Bee Healthy). I researched and found that I could help the bees create a "ladder" by moving two brood frames from the 1st deep to the middle of the 2nd deep to encourage more bees to move to the top and draw out comb. So this is what I did yesterday:

    When I opened the hive to remove the frames from the 1st deep the middle brood frames had been filled with honey. I couldn't find the queen but did find the beginnings of 4 swarm cells, along with a few eggs around some drone cells. My husband and I tried to quickly research what we should do with the swarm cells and read in a book to remove them, which I did, but am wondering if that was a BIG no no. I should also mention that the weather was about 90 degrees yesterday in Portland, and though the bees have been bearding regularly, it seemed that there were extra bees in the front of the hive, and were on the front of the hive because they were feeling overcrowded. I ended up moving 4 frames of honey covered with bees to the top deep and placed 4 empty in the bottom. Again, I couldn't find the queen but was hopeful since the hive was so overcrowded that's why I couldn't see her.

    SOOOO here's where I'm at now: They seemed really agitated after I had put the hive back together and there were bees all over the front of the hive with many on the back, which was a first. Bees were buzzing all around the hive. It wasn't until the weather cooled down a bit around 10:00 pm that they calmed down. It appeared they were bearding in the front but there were scattered clusters on the whole front of the hive. This morning, there's a small cluster beneath the cinderblock that the hive is placed on (I've attached a picture). Also, after counting the dead mites from the pull out board last night, I decided not to put the tray back in to help with ventilation, with hope the bees would feel less crowded in there, even though I still have Apiguard in-between the deeps (I just so want to be done with medication so the bees can go back to doing their thing and want more ventilation in there!). This morning, I peeked under the hive at the screened bottom board and noticed a lot of bees underneath the screen (I've attached a pic).

    From what you've read and seen from the pictures, does it look like they're preparing to swarm?

    I feel like it's so unfortunate I had to treat the bees for mites around the same time I should've put the second deep on and now the medication has screwed up the laying of eggs and between that and the bees feeling overcrowded I'm doomed. Is there anything I should do at this point? Did I majorly screw things up by removing the 4 swarm cells, one that had a small pile of royal jelly in it??? I'm feeling so defeated at this point.

    Many thanks in advance for your help.

    (ps, two days after the last application of Apiguard I noticed dead pupae parts on the pull out board and witnessed the bees on top of the screen bottom board eating them. There was also dead pupae pulled out of the hive and placed in front on the ground, which I read can happen with Apiguard treatment. There hasn't been any dead pupae that I've seen for the last few days. I guess I add this to illustrate there's been so many unexpected things I've witnessed with the hive and feel bad that I've had to mess with them so early in the season. Yes, I'm learning a lot, but whew! I just want things back to normal!)
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Not sure if bees are preparing to swarm--I need advice!

    PPS there's not as much activity at the entrance this morning. There's a few that go in and out but nothing like the usual busyness that I see.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    East Liverpool, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Not sure if bees are preparing to swarm--I need advice!

    Perhaps the queen is now under the screened bottom board. Can you carefully look to see if she is in the cluster under there?
    We have found queens under there quite a few times. The hives seem queen right yet no brood or the cluster gets so big underneath that it has drawn our attention to it.
    Just my two cents.
    Joe
    Joe and Heidi S.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Not sure if bees are preparing to swarm--I need advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by jhs494 View Post
    Perhaps the queen is now under the screened bottom board. Can you carefully look to see if she is in the cluster under there?
    We have found queens under there quite a few times. The hives seem queen right yet no brood or the cluster gets so big underneath that it has drawn our attention to it.
    Just my two cents.
    Joe

    Thanks so much for your reply, Joe! Should I put some smoke down there to help them to disperse to see if the queen is there?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Panama City, Florida, USA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: Not sure if bees are preparing to swarm--I need advice!

    Apiguard tends to run the bees out of the hive at some concentrations and higher outside temperatures. I would imagine that what you are seeing are some bees that were run out of the hive and now since you have screened bottom boards on "think" they are actually in the hive.

    I would scoop them off and pour them back in the top of the hive and close it back up. the vapors from the Apiguard may also mask the queen pheremone and prompt supercedure cells. You need to spend some time looking for the queen to insure she is there. Since you already removed the queen cells, they may not be able to re-queen if she is in fact dead. Never remove cells until you first verify that the old queen is present and still laying.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Not sure if bees are preparing to swarm--I need advice!

    Thank you! I have made so many newbee mistakes. I'll take your advice and try scooping them. Should I smoke them first?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Not sure if bees are preparing to swarm--I need advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    Apiguard tends to run the bees out of the hive at some concentrations and higher outside temperatures. I would imagine that what you are seeing are some bees that were run out of the hive and now since you have screened bottom boards on "think" they are actually in the hive.

    I would scoop them off and pour them back in the top of the hive and close it back up. the vapors from the Apiguard may also mask the queen pheremone and prompt supercedure cells. You need to spend some time looking for the queen to insure she is there. Since you already removed the queen cells, they may not be able to re-queen if she is in fact dead. Never remove cells until you first verify that the old queen is present and still laying.
    Thank you! I have made so many newbee mistakes. I'll take your advice and try scooping them. Should I smoke them first?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    East Liverpool, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Not sure if bees are preparing to swarm--I need advice!

    I personally wouldn't use smoke in this case. I always carry a queen clip or two in my jacket pocket. I like to carefully move the bees around using the queen clip and catch her with the clip if I spot her. Smoke might stir them up so much she may run before you can get a chance to spot her.
    Joe and Heidi S.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Not sure if bees are preparing to swarm--I need advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by jhs494 View Post
    I personally wouldn't use smoke in this case. I always carry a queen clip or two in my jacket pocket. I like to carefully move the bees around using the queen clip and catch her with the clip if I spot her. Smoke might stir them up so much she may run before you can get a chance to spot her.
    Thank you, jhs494--I appreciate your input! I ended up having to leave for a good portion of the day, which ended up being a good thing, I think. When returning home both clusters were gone--I think they found their way back inside the hive and there's normal activity at the entrance. They were so incredibly agitated last night--I think I've caused a lot of stress with the combination of meds, checker boarding, etc that I'm going to leave them alone for a bit and hope the foundation with get drawn out and the queen (if she's there!!) will start laying eggs. Thanks so much for your help!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Not sure if bees are preparing to swarm--I need advice!

    So here's an update!

    I went ahead and left the beehive alone. Wanted to inspect it last Thursday (the one week mark since the big fiasco when I first started this thread) but had to leave town for family business--was able to open it up today with my daughter who is loving being involved with the bees. I couldn't find any eggs or the queen in either of the two deeps. There were 4 new swarm cells being formed (didn't see any eggs in them) and possible one supercedure cell--at least I'm assuming it could've been because it was near the top of the frame whereas the others were towards the lower. Perhaps they're all supercedure cells? I did find some drone larva, though. I'm assuming a worker bee layed the eggs for them??

    I'm wondering at this point if I should order a new queen? And if that's the case, should I remove the queen cells?

    Thanks so much for your help!

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